Located in San Francisco Bay and occupying part of the mainland and three islands, Alameda is fondly nicknamed ‘the Island City’. This Bay Area city has a distinctly suburban feel combined with easy access to all the amenities of a major city.
Diverse entertainment options can be found in Alameda, and the city offers a convenient commute due to its proximity to Oakland and Berkley. Local schools in the area have an excellent reputation and are managed by the Alameda Unified School District.
Beyond the East Bay hills in Contra Costa County lie single-family homes with yards and highly rated public schools. Historic areas such as Danville, Lafayette and Martinez are walkable, full of character and have a wide range of eclectic independent shops.
Cost of living in Alameda and Contra Costa County
One undeniable downside of moving to Alameda and Contra Costa County is the high cost of living. New arrivals looking to make this area their home will need to ensure they have ample room in the budget for high monthly and day-to-day expenses. The yearly cost of basic expenses in Alameda – such as housing, food, transport, childcare, taxes and healthcare – is well above the average yearly cost of living in California and nearly double the average cost of living in the US. If planning to invest in real estate, it’s important to note that the median price of purchasing a home in Alameda is close to three times the national average.
For those who can afford it, though, the high quality of life in Alameda and Contra Costa County more than makes up for the hefty price tag attached to living here.
Getting around in Alameda and Contra Costa County
Getting from point A to B in the Bay Area is a breeze. From Alameda, Downtown San Francisco can be reached in 20 minutes from one of two ferry terminals, while South San Francisco is a 40-minute ferry ride away. San Francisco can also be reached by bus or by car using the nearby freeway.
The rich cultural scenes of Oakland and Berkeley, replete with vibrant nightlife, live concerts and delicious cuisine to explore, are also within easy reach of Alameda. These areas are roughly 10 to 20 minutes out from Alameda, by road or subway.
Healthcare in Alameda and Contra Costa County
Thanks to the presence of exceptional healthcare facilities, those moving to Alameda and Contra Costa County will have easy access to qualified healthcare practitioners operating in world-class facilities. As East Bay’s leading care system, Alameda Health System offers exceptional patient- and family-centred care.
There is a range of facilities available offering specialised care across Alameda. These include Wilma Chan Highland Hospital Campus, John George Psychiatric Hospital and Fairmont Hospital.
With a passion for community-based care, Alameda has maintained the long-standing community hospitals of San Leandro and Alameda. Add to that four neighbourhood-based community wellness centres in Oakland, Newark and Hayward, and it’s easy to see why healthcare in Alameda and Contra Costa County is among the best in the country.
Schools in Alameda and Contra Costa County
Alameda is an excellent destination for new arrivals with children, offering various top-notch amenities, including an impressive selection of schools. Good public, private and charter schools are all available throughout Alameda and the Contra Costa County area. After-school programmes provide extra opportunities for personal growth and development. These are held either on school premises or around Alameda City Parks.
The Alameda Unified School District is a major employer in the area and runs nine elementary schools, four middle schools, and four high schools. Highly ranked public schools in the area include Alameda High School, Encinal High School, and Alameda Science and Technology Institute.
Some of the top private schools in Alameda are Faria Elementary School (part of the Catholic Archdiocese of Oakland) and The Academy of Alameda (a college preparatory school).
Weather in Alameda and Contra Costa County
With a prime location in Northern California, Alameda has no shortage of wonderful weather. The city’s average of more than 250 clear days a year means residents have plenty of time for fun in the sun. A fairly steady state of weather occurs throughout the year with little temperature variation. Ranging from mild to warm, the typical daily temperature is between 70°F (21°C) and 85°F (29°C). A bonus of this continually balmy climate is that many of Alameda and Contra Costa County’s natural parks and attractions are open throughout the year.
Working in Alameda and Contra Costa County
A high quality of life, along with a well-educated local workforce, make Alameda and Contra Costa County attractive areas for businesses. The easy access to transport and central location are major assets to businesses, while workers are enticed by the city’s good schools, historic neighbourhoods and safe streets.
Much of Alameda’s workforce is employed in healthcare, education, manufacturing and services. Other strong industries in the city include retail and finances.
Accommodation in Alameda and Contra Costa County
For those seeking accommodation in Alameda and Contra Costa County, it is crucial to consider factors such as proximity to work, schools and lifestyle preferences. These areas offer a blend of urban convenience and suburban tranquillity, making them ideal for a wide range of residents. That said, the cost of homes in Alameda and Contra Costa County may be a concern for newcomers, as average home costs skirt seven figures.
In Alameda, one can find a blend of historic Victorian homes, modern apartments and charming bungalows, each neighbourhood offering its unique history, character and amenities. Fernside, with its tree-lined streets and quaint bungalows, exudes a suburban charm. Woodstock, known for its more affordable homes, still maintains proximity to Alameda’s vibrant downtown, making it a desirable location for those seeking a blend of tranquillity and urban accessibility.
Contra Costa County showcases a variety of residential areas, from bustling urban centres to serene suburban settings. Areas like Walnut Creek and Lafayette are renowned for their upscale living, shopping, scenic beauty and arts scenes, while others like San Ramon are known for their thriving business communities and family-friendly atmosphere. The housing options in Contra Costa range from luxury apartments to spacious single-family homes, each area providing a unique living experience.
Are you an expat living in Alameda and Contra Costa?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Alameda and Contra Costa. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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